According to a new report released by the Solar Foundation, the solar industry has seen rapid job growth in the past year, adding workers at a rate nearly 12 times faster than the overall economy.
The National Solar Jobs Census 2015 report conducted their annual survey on the solar industry via phone calls and emails, with a sample size of nearly 400,000 establishments across the nation. Usable data came from 19,000 firms, with full survey completions from 2,350 solar establishments.
A total of nearly 209,000 workers are employed in the solar industry as of November 2015, representing 1.2% of all jobs created in the U.S. over the last year. Employment in the solar industry is up 20.2% year-over-year--2015 is the third consecutive year where employment grew over an 20%. Since 2010, the solar industry has grown 123%.
Over the next 12 months, surveyed employers expect to see total employment in the solar industry to grow 14.7%, in contrast to the 1.1% growth expected for the overall economy. By division, respondents expect installation firms will add the most jobs during 2016, followed closely by project development firms.
workers are paid at a competitive rate with an annual raise, according to the
report. All solar occupations in the chart below earn more than the 2014 national hourly median of $17.04, according to the latest compensation data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2015, the median hourly wage increased for three of the four occupations highlighted in the report, with sales representatives (who have the highest median hourly pay) as the exception. Wage growth between 2014 and 2015 "offer[s] insight into labor supply and demand, as wages rise in response to the scarcity of talent."
Similar to what builders are facing, employers in the solar industry reported difficulty finding qualified labor during 2015. In the report, about one in five employers said it is very difficult to find qualified employees. Outside of the manufacturing division, every division in the sector saw an increase in “very difficult to hire” responses during 2015. By Census division, employers in the Middle Atlantic had the most difficulty hiring in 2015, as opposed to employers in West North Central and West South Central, where 31.9% and 31.1% of respondents reported that it was "not difficult at all" to hire skilled employees.
The Solar Foundation drills into employee demographics, as well as division-specific data in their full report.